For the body to be healthy, chi energy must be able to flow freely through the meridians. Disease results when internal or external causes attack, weaken or impede the chi's natural flow.
Five devils. Exposure to excessive wind, heat, dampness, dryness and cold can affect the vitality of the wei chi, especially if neglect or an unhealthful lifestyle has weakened it.
Five destructive emotions. Anger, joy, worry, grief and fear all have their place, but overindulgence creates imbalances in the body's system. When disease occurs, a Chinese-medicine practitioner will examine the patient for signs of physical or emotional imbalance, then seek to restore health by restoring the strength and the flow of vital energy.
Common therapies, which may be used separately or together, include:
Acupuncture helps energies flow freely through the meridians by removing blockages. The practitioner inserts needles or applies pressure at body points that correlate to specific conditions and symptoms.
Chinese herbs help restore healthful balance by directing energies through channels in ways that relieve underlying deficiencies, overactivities or other problems. Though Western herbal therapies usually target specific symptoms, Chinese herbs treat the overall system.
Chinese practitioners believe that exercise keeps the energy moving and is essential for good health. For example: Too much sitting can injure the kidney. The liver also needs movement to maintain health.
"The Chinese approach to nutrition makes good sense for Western diets, as well," says Elias.
Mainstays of the traditional Chinese diet include rice, vegetables and lean meat, chicken and fish lightly cooked to preserve vitamins. Instead of high-fat, low-nutrition, highly processed foods, "we need whole foods for healthy chi," says Elias.
Bonnie Jacob spoke with Jason Elias, M.A., L.Ac., co-founder of Integral Health Associates in New Paltz, New York, and author of Chinese Medicine for Maximum Immunity, Three Rivers Press, 2000, $18.
Thanks to Vitality Magazine
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